This last week I was in Schloß Dagstuhl, Germany for the annual Feature-Oriented Software Development (FOSD) 2014 Meeting. This meeting is an event to help young and aspiring research to exchange their work, ideas, and learn about others in the FOSD community.
For me, as the submission of my PhD thesis draws closer, I wanted to present the work that I have been carrying out since the Conference on Generative Programming: Concepts and Experiences (GPCE) 2013, in Indianapolis. This work included information on our extension to allow for runtime GUI adaptation, and also scalability data of the approach.
Schloß Dagstuhl is a wonderful centre for Computer Science, close to the small town of Wadern. It provides a unique atmosphere for Computer Science and Informatics researchers to present and discuss their research in seminars. Only a 5 minute walk away is the remains of the old Dagstuhl Fort. This fort provides a absolutely stunning view of the surrounding area as it exists on the top of hill. What also makes the complex unique is its reliance on trust. For example, none of the accommodation rooms have keys, and can only be locked from the inside. Also, the general available of food/alcohol, with the only requirement that you keep track of what you have, which you then pay for at the end of your stay.
The different talks from everyone at the event were fascinating. There were a range of different FOSD work being presented from testing and verification, analysis of current large SPLs e.g. the Linux Kernel, best practices in FOSD software engineering (Code Smells) etc. For me, it was interesting to be presenting my work on handling the Graphical User Interface in Dynamic Software Product Lines, and see what the community thought of my approach. During the event, I also had the time to discuss other research ideas in the field I’ve had for a while, and I was given some great ideas from people about where I can look for related work. It was just great to be able to discuss my ideas with Christian Kästner, Sven Apel, Martin Erwig, and Norbert Siegmund to just name a few. These conversations were often not during the actual sessions but during dinner, and social events in the evenings. To be honest, I expected I would spend some time alone at night doing work, but there was really never any time, which made the event even more special.
Lastly, as part of the FOSD meetings, there is a competition for the Coolest Tool Name. This was inspired by the Top Gear Cool Wall, and gives us researchers a reason to think of a really cool name for our tools. For the competition I entered my DSPL middleware, which I have named FeatureDroid. The reason why I have called it FeatureDroid is that it fits with two common naming conventions. The first is that often in FOSD tools, the tool names often start with the prefix “Feature”. Also, software designed for the Android mobile platform often end with the suffix “Droid”. So, for me, it seemed a nobrainer to call my middleware “FeatureDroid”. At least from the votes I saw before I left the event it looked like many people thought it was a cool name. Sadly, I didn’t win, but Tassio Vale from Brazil with his tool name SPLice (Software Product Line Integrated Construction Environment) won, justifiably (I voted for it also).
One of the best things I feel I got from FOSD is the increased ties with all the great researchers in my field. I hope this will in time lead to more research cooperation, and hopefully a greater involvement with the FOSD community. I thank the event organisers (Sandro Schulze, Christian Kästner, and Sven Apel) for inviting me, and I look forward to hopefully going to FOSD 2015!